In the fall of 1956, Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt, in “the best-documented war plot in modern history,”1 which the conspirators put in writing and signed at a meeting at Sevres near Paris on October 22-24. Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, the military chief of staff Moshe Dayan, and their fellow militarists viewed Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser as a new Saladin or an Arab Ataturk, a mortal threat to Israel, who had to be destroyed. That June Ben-Gurion had forced the resignation of his main opponent within the government, foreign minister Moshe Sharett, while denying him a debate in the cabinet and in their Mapai party on the broad choices represented by their respective policies. Sharett was also concerned, but recognized that Israel’s policies had largely provoked the crisis with Egypt, and viewed war as a last rather than first resort.
The government of France was as obsessed with Nasser as Israel’s, blaming him for Algerian resistance to French rule, an illusion which Israel cultivated. The Algerian conflict “escalated into all-out war” in the period before the Suez crisis.2 The defense ministry was the seat of French anti-Nasser sentiment, reflecting the frustrations of the military, which chafed from defeats in 1940, and in 1954 at Dienbienphu. French arms sales to Israel had arisen from liaison between their defense ministries, bypassing both foreign ministries. Franco-Israeli talks were held near Paris in June, resulting in an arms deal and initial military collaboration against Nasser. These gave Israel an arms supply and a political partnership, laying the basis for participation in the eventual tripartite campaign.
Entire article (PDF with notes) is at Suez 1956, Iran 2007?
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